Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Where Writers Write: Alex Myers

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Alex Myers.

Alex is a teacher, speaker, writer, and advocate for transgender rights. Since coming out as transgender in 1995, he has worked with schools across the country, helping them create gender inclusive policies, practices, and facilities. Alex's essays have appeared in the Guardian, Slate, Newsweek, Salon, and variety of other journals. He has published two novels, Revolutionary (Simon & Schuster, 2014) and Continental Divide (The University of New Orleans, 2019), as well as a third, The Story of Silence, forthcoming from HarperCollins (2020). Alex teaches English at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Where Alex Myers Writes

It isn't pretty. It isn't fancy. But it works for me. What is it? It's my father's old desk with an ikea tv stand on top of it, which makes it the perfect height for me to stand at to type or write by hand. It's a heap of paper and notes, all of it totally messy to an outsider and completely organized to me. 

I've got a window that looks out into a parking lot; the afternoon light is great. I've got two cats who vie to sit on the desk whenever the heat is on (the radiator is right there underneath) or whenever the trash is being picked up in the parking lot (somehow, they think they can take on a trash truck). 

Something you might not notice: the dark stain on the wood floor right in front of the desk. That's where I stand. Where my feet hit the ground. I mostly stand there barefoot, and maybe the mark is a testament to the corrosive properties of my foot sweat, but I like to think that it actually speaks to how much I stand there. Every day. At least for a little bit.

In an ideal world, I could write anywhere, and sometimes I have to. But the truth is, this is my happy writing spot. Everything I need is close at hand; I'm used to the noises the space makes, the light across the desk, the warmth of the room. When I write in the afternoon, I can watch the sunset, and this view is how I mark the seasons; I catch the first yellow-green of spring fuzz on the maple tree; I watch the progress of the shadows across the roof as the sun roams the sky in summer. Then, it's on to New England's gorgeous display of red-orange fall. Arriving at where I am today. Writing. Looking at the window, a cat purring nearby, the branches bare and ready for winter and me, warm and waiting to write.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Indie Ink Runs Deep: Meagan Lucas

Every now and then I manage to talk a small press author into showing us a little skin... tattooed skin, that is. I know there are websites and books out there that have been-there-done-that already, but I hadn't seen one with a specific focus on the authors and publishers of the small press community. Whether it's the influence for their book, influenced by their book, or completely unrelated to the book, we get to hear the story behind their indie ink....


Today's ink story comes from Meagan Lucas, who's novel Songbirds and Stray Dogs recently released with Main Street Rag Press. 

“Don’t it hurt, doing that?” they ask, and I don’t know if they mean the ink on my skin or the words on my page. Doesn’t really matter I suppose, the answer is the same, “yes.”

For me, writing and being tattooed have been parallel journeys. In my early adulthood, I dabbled in both. Small pieces - easy to hide, easy to forget and nothing I was particularly attached to. My first tattoo was a Celtic knot on my lower back, scratched in the minute I turned 18, and hidden under the waist band of my pants. My first written pieces: a blog I wrote mostly to process my feelings and combat the loneliness of moving to a new country for grad school. Both the tattoo and the blog, as innocuous as they sound, ended up being sore spots. The tattoo was poorly done requiring a lot of touchups - even now almost 20 years later I can find its raised edges with my fingertips. The blog, a vent that I thought was a secret, was found by my boyfriend at the time who was surprised and upset to find out he was not my only boyfriend – a discovery that was painful for both of us and ended that friendship. As a result, I stepped away from both tattooing and writing for a number of years.

In 2011 my daughter was born, and post-partum depression gripped me, although I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was that I was unhappy, disappointed, and afraid. I found myself writing essays about motherhood. I published on some small blogs. It felt good to express myself, and to create connections, to feel like I was using my education and communicating with adults. In 2013 my son was born, and with a toddler and an infant, I was nearly drowned in depression and anxiety. I gained a lot of weight. I was sad and angry all the time. I know that I was not fun to be around. I saw a therapist. She helped me understand that taking care of myself was not selfish, but necessary. I lost some weight. I began to write more seriously. I discovered two things: 1) that between pregnancy and weight my body no longer felt like it belonged to me, and 2) the essays I was writing were getting more and more personal and I felt like they were becoming unfair to people I loved.   

In retrospect, it isn’t a surprise that I began to work on my leg tattoo project (flowers - symbolizing my rebirth and my love of plants), and my novel (Songbirds and Stray Dogs just recently published) around the same time. I’d discovered that with fiction I could write about the issues that I wanted to under the guise of telling tales – that the lies and stories pointed at bigger truths than my real life experience ever could. And, that I needed a way to take my body back and that a large leg piece would be a start, to reclaim my skin as my own. The needle did for my body what the pen did for my mind.

Yes, being beneath a needle for 50+ hours (and more to come), and probing the emotional corners of my soul for story ideas are painful. But it’s a healing sort of pain, like when a broken bone aches as it knits itself back together, or the cleansing pain of rubbing alcohol on a skinned knee. With each chapter and story, and each visit to my tattoo artist (Phil Theoret, Asheville, NC), I am stronger and better and more *me.*


Meagan Lucas is the author of the Southern Literary Fiction novel Songbirds and Stray Dogs. Her short work has appeared in: The Santa Fe Writer’s Project, The New Southern Fugitives, Still: The Journal, and The Blue Mountain Review among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and she won the 2017 Scythe Prize for Fiction. Taylor Brown says Meagan is: “a brave new voice in Southern Fiction,” and Steph Post describes Songbirds and Stray Dogs as a “stunning, startling novel.” Meagan teaches English Composition at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, and is the Fiction Editor at Barren Magazine. She lives with her husband and children in Hendersonville, NC. Read more, or connect with Meagan on Social Media, here:

Monday, November 18, 2019

Bronwyn Reviews: Bright

translated from the Thai by Mui Poopoksakul
Publisher: Two Lines Press
Released: 2019

reviewed by Bronwyn Mauldin

Bright opens with a slow-motion heartbreak. A father tells his five year-old son, Kampol, to wait here, I’ll be back in a bit, then drives away with his baby brother. You, the reader, know he isn’t coming back. His mother left a few days ago after a nasty fight. Kampol sees his father drive away, then paces back and forth for hours, watching the curve in the road for his return.

The neighbors, residents of a small Thai village, do what they can. Over the course of the novel, Kampol’s basic needs and more are met by an assortment of people with varying degrees of caring and, at times, resentment. He has food, shelter, clothes, toys, and friendship. The village shopkeeper, Hia Chong, makes sure he learns to read. Uncle Dang occasionally asks him to give him a massage by walking up and down on his back. This turns out to simply be an excuse to give Kampol a few baht to spend. Uncle Dum, Aunt Tongbai, Old Jai, Mon, and others take turns stretching their meals to feed him, giving him a corner in their homes to sleep.

The title of this book, Bright, is a translation of Kampol’s family name, Changsamran. The word can also mean “joy,” which might appear as a contradiction of the hardships of this boy’s life. However, as Pimwana has said, “when the readers finish the story, they’ll likely find that the name is not ironic at all, for sadness in a story can be mixed with happiness.”

Pimwana is well known in Thailand for her short story collections. While Bright is a novel, it reads more as a collection of interconnected stories. This book was originally published in 2003, earning for Pimwana Southeast Asia’s most prestigious literary prize, the S.E.A. Write Award. It has only now been published in English by Two Lines Press. In fact, they say this is the first novel by a female Thai writer ever to be published in English.

Pimwana shows, never tells, with her prose. We see Kampol laugh and we see him cry, but we are seldom inside his five year-old mind, or the mind of any other character. This puts the reader at some distance them. We learn the motives of one character from their actions and from what other characters say about them.  

This distance does not dull the heartache we feel for Kampol as he goes about his ordinary days, or when he goes off on adventures like seeing a likay troupe perform, taking a bus to the beach by himself, or sneaking into a wedding with friends to try to cadge a free meal. For example, one day, Kampol announces to his friend Oan that not having parents isn’t all bad, telling him,

“I have more freedom than other people, that’s why. I don’t have to keep asking my mama for money. I can buy all the snacks I want, I can play wherever I want; I don’t have to ask permission from anybody.”  

These stories give a view into the lives of the people who make up a Thai village, and a universal but very particular boy’s life.

Bronwyn Mauldin writes fiction and poetry and is creator of The Democracy Series zine collection. Her newest short story appears in the 2019 Gold Man Review. More at

Friday, November 1, 2019

Audio Series: Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape

Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Today, Joshua Chaplinsky will be reading an excerpt from his most recent collection Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape. Joshua 
is the Managing Editor of He is the author of ‘Kanye West—Reanimator’ and the story collection 'Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape.' His short fiction has been published by Motherboard, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Clash Books, Pantheon Magazine and Broken River Books. Follow him on Twitter at @jaceycockrobin. More info at  

Click on the soundcloud bar below to listen to Joshua read from his collection:

What it's about: 

The debut short story collection from Joshua Chaplinsky, author of Kanye West—Reanimator. Thirteen weird pieces of literary genre fiction. Singularities, ciphers, and reappearing limbs. Alien messiahs and murderous medieval hydrocephalics. A dark collection that twists dreams into nightmares in an attempt to find a whisper of truth.